Graduation

Graduation rates, policies, and caps - oh my! This section covers all topics related to community college graduations. How does state spending impact graduation rates? Who are the oldest community college graduates? What initiatives are in place to stem the rate of dropouts? Find the answers to these questions and more.
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A college education is an important component to a lucrative and successful career today, whether the degree is earned at a community college or four-year university. That fact is driving the efforts of the current administration to raise the completion rates at community colleges across the country within the next decade. President Obama has launched an initiative to graduate five million new students from community colleges by 2020. The president believes this lofty goal will help the United States establish itself in the top spot for college graduates and beef up the country’s economic outlook at the same time.

However, many states have found that the current economic crunch and exceedingly high unemployment rate are forcing them to make difficult decisions when balancing their budgets. Some of those decisions involve cutting funding to institutions of higher education –just when schools need money the most. When less money is available, students tend to suffer from fewer services and crowded classes that make it difficult to graduate on time. Less funding also means fewer options in financial aid and higher tuition rates, which often price many low-income students right out of the community college market.
 
New Report Shows Shrinking Budgets Impacting Completion Rates
 
A new report from the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education shows a direct correlation between less funding and diminishing completion rates at many community colleges around the country. According to the agency’s website, the report, titled, “Affordability and Transfer:...
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President Obama has announced an ambitious plan to graduate an additional 5 million community college students by 2020. To achieve this end, the President has raised the level of awareness about the benefits of community colleges and issued grants and other funding to raise enrollment levels across the country. However, getting more students into college is only the first part of the battle.
 
Low Completion Rates a National Problem
 
Graduation rates for community colleges are currently dismal at best, with less than one-quarter who enroll in a college graduating from a degree or certificate program within three years, according to a report at the Houston Chronicle. That figure varies throughout the country, with some states seeing even lower numbers in their graduation rates. For example, Texas faces s a community college graduation rate of just 12 percent within three years, although that number goes up to 30 percent within six years. Still, if community colleges are to truly raise up a workforce that can compete in the global economy, they must do much better than the status quo.
 
The worst numbers appear to come from low-income students, who enter community college in an effort to bring themselves to a higher earning level. However, the majority of these students never complete their degree or certificate program, which reduces their chances of a decent-paying job or transfer to a four-year institution. In a community college summit last fall, President Obama told the Christian Science Monitor, "In...
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Last year, President Obama announced his ambitious plan to graduate five million more students from community colleges by the year 2020. The President believes this goal is necessary to ensure the United States can continue to be leaders in a global economy, according to a report at WhiteHouse.gov. However, boosting graduation rates at community colleges across the country may be easier said than done. To facilitate the process, California has developed a list of recommendations to increase graduation rates in that state, which could serve as a model for other states as well.
 
Room for Improvement
 
According to a report on Southern California Public Radio, there is plenty of room for improvement in California community colleges today. A study conducted by California State University, Sacramento, found that seven of every 10 students do not complete a two-year degree or transfer to a four-year institution. Long Beach City College President Eloy Ortiz Oakley told the radio station, "We need to rapidly improve the education of our workforce, and community colleges are the gateway to the majority of that workforce in California."
 
Finding Solutions

To help achieve that end, the Community College League of California has issued recommendations for community colleges to follow. The report, titled, "Commission on the Future's 2020 Vision for Student Success," outlines 17 recommendations designed to increase student graduation rates across the board. League president Scott Lay told KPBS that the purpose of the report is to make community colleges more structured.
 
"Having...
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Throughout his administration, President Obama has shined a major spotlight on America’s college graduation rates, and community colleges are feeling the pressure. According to the Hechinger Report, fewer than one out of five students at community colleges obtain their desired degree in three years or less. A recent study published by the American Institutes for Research (AIR) paints a similarly grim picture by indicating that high college dropout rates cost both state and federal governments billions of dollars each year. However, do these numbers really paint an accurate picture of what is happening in community colleges and four-year institutions across the country? This article will explore the many reasons for high dropout rates, including flaws in the manner in which such data is collected.
 
What the Numbers Show
 


As shown in the graph above, data from the National Center for Education Statistics shows that only 13 percent of community college students graduate in two years. Within three years, approximately 22 percent of students graduate, and within four years, the rate stands at 28 percent. Further data from AIR shows that only about 60% of college students graduate from four-year colleges and universities within six years. AIR vice president Mark Schneider claims that more than $9 billion is spent on these students each year by state and federal governments, yet all that funding fails to produce a college graduate that could bring those years of education to the country's workforce. While the AIR numbers are specifically related to...
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Recent statistics have shown that it takes much more than a simple decision to attend community college to succeed in one of these institutions. In California, only 30% of community college students are receiving the benefits a college education can offer.
 
Study Results Concerning
 
A new study conducted by the Institute for Higher Education Leadership & Policy at Cal State Sacramento and reported by the Los Angeles Times found that the large majority of community college students failed to obtain a degree or transfer to a four-year institution. These students typically dropped out – some with a significant amount of debt and no degree to help them. In addition, only 40% of community college students achieved sufficient credit hours in school to boost their potential in the workforce.
 
The study also found a large disparity between minority and Caucasian students, with only 26% of African-American students and 22% of Latino students earning a degree, certification or transfer to a four-year university within six years. This compared to 37% of Caucasian students or 35% of Asian Pacific Islanders who saw success in community college. One possible reason for the difference is that many minority students in the California public school system find themselves in overcrowded classrooms with less access to qualified teachers and counselors.
 
Other States Facing Similar Problems
 
The low community college graduation rates are not restricted to California Schools. According to a report at the Goldwater Institute website, most Arizona community colleges can also be referred to...
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